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ENABLING CHURCH MEMBERS TO MINISTER EFFECTIVELY Print E-mail
Written by Kevin L. Howard   

(Revised 9/27/2009; revisions underlined)

 

Your church has what it takes to make a difference in its community.  Not because your church has the ability in and of itself.  It's because Jesus dwells in your midst and Jesus claims the church as his bride.  I want to share a few principles that will possibly help leaders empower their congregations to minister more effectively.  Rightfully put, any true empowering will come from the grace of Christ.

 

1. We as spiritual leaders can better enable others in the church by Teaching them to delight in God.  David declares in Ps 34:8, "O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"  David went on to say in Ps 37, "Delight yourself in the Lord; and he will give you the desires of your heart."  There's nothing God desires more than for his people to delight in him.  He wants his glory spread to all nations, and that will not happen apart from true joy flowing from the hearts of his followers.  Do we as leaders frequently bubble forth into joyful song as the Psalmist so often did?  "Praise the Lord!  Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his loving-kindness is everlasting" (Ps 106:1).  If we overflow with songs of joy, then our congregations, with the grace of Christ, will likely catch that same passion.

 

2. We as spiritual leaders can better enable others in the church by Helping them see that they are ministers too.  They are ministers as much as we are, and if they don't understand that, we'll be doing all the work while they watch.  First Corinthians 12:1-31, Rom 12:3-8, Eph 4:11-13, and 1 Pet 4:10-11 tell us that all believers have gifts and a ministry.  Are we helping them discover those gifts?  Some churches function to highlight only the staffs' gifts.  As leaders we want to help believers use their own gifts to reach people for Christ.  Put your people in charge of a ministry and let them run with it.  None of this negates the authority that God grants to pastors and elders, it just means that we're not the only ones in the church who can minister.  To lead as and elder or pastor and to minister aren't always the same thing.  We still need our biblical leaders in the church.

 

3. We as spiritual leaders can better enable others in the church by Freeing up their schedules to ministerMaybe we can take away some of the unnecessary demands: "Be at Monday's bake sale...Tuesday's business meeting...Wednesday's service...Thursday's prayer time...and Friday's fellowship dinner."  No wonder some churches have problems recruiting volunteers.  If we promote healthy families in our sermons, we can't also demand that people attend every function of the church. The mentality, that we have to attend church a certain number of times a week, is similar to the idea that Jesus attacked in Mt 15:1-14 and 23:1-15 when he condemned the Pharisees because of their tradition.  Tradition is ok as long as it is not a basis for a person's righteousness.  And being faithful to our local church is a good thing, but we have to keep it within biblical bounds.

 

4. We as spiritual leaders can better enable others in the church by Cultivating a "Go to the lost" mentality, not a "Y'all come" mentality.  The "Y'all come" mentality is the mindset that everyone we reach for Christ has to eventually show up at our church building.  The "Y'all come" idea isn't always biblical.  Inviting non-Christians to a church service is fine, but the biblical mindset is this--Christ wants us to go to the lost so all people can worship him.  I'm not talking about trying to rally more people to our visitations, because many church visitations are nothing more than another form of the "Y'all come" mentality.  Maybe we should focus less on the scheduled events of our churches and put more emphasis on Christians reaching others for Christ apart from our church services.  In other words, enable our people to start their own home-groups with their friends and neighbors who need Christ.  If our people aren't ready to do this, we have an obligation to prepare them to minister. 

 

If our people had to choose between going to dinner on Sunday night with a lost couple to share Christ with them or showing up at our church service, which would we rather them do?  Many leaders would say, bring the lost family to the church and then go to dinner afterwards.  But that could be the "Y'all come" mentality.  If we, the people of God are the church, then we, the church, can go to the lost without requiring that they come to our church buildings.  After all, the kingdom of God is within us, not confined to church buildings.  (Admittedly, at a church with multiple services, this wouldn't be as much of a problem since it would be easier to worship and then get together for a meal).  With all of this said, I want to stress, however, that the local church is important.  I don't mean to communicate that the church is frivolous and its services insignificant.  In fact, I want to stress the importance of the local church by helping Christians see that, with Christ's help, they can start other churches, as long as they follow the biblical pattern.

 

As we equip our people to minister, then they can start home-groups or even house-churches.  Starting a church doesn't require money, a piano, a pastor, or an official church building.  It only takes a couple of believers to form a church.  (I'd qualify this to say, a pastor is needed, but perhaps not at the very beginning as long as there was a male leader who could guide things for a while.  Before long, this group, in order to become a church or stay a church, would need a biblically qualified pastor (1 Tim 3), even if he wasn't a paid pastor as we frequently think of pastors in the States.)  What would happen to our communities if we enabled the people on our pews to start home Bible-study groups with their lost neighbors?  Before long, those groups would be churches because many of those lost people would become believers.  And they would become a church that is sending out others to start churches, who repeat the process.  Some of these groups could be assimilated into our existing churches, but others would become separate congregations.  And that's ok.

 

Conclusion

Normally, we don't want to release people to pastor churches before they have the spiritual maturity to pastor.  There are some situations overseas where persecution keeps this from being possible.  We also want to make sure that if the people who are starting the new church or churches are new believers themselves but aren't necessarily going to become the leader or pastor of that group, that they have a great deal of coaching and discipleship as they go, rather than being turned loose without proper spiritual guidance.  Again, some persecution situations may keep discipleship from taking place, but normally it's biblical to keep discipling without getting in the way of the new believer's excitement to start a church.

 

Many well-intentioned church leaders have inadvertently promoted the idea that the church is something we do, something we attend, a building we go to, rather than something we are, a community of believers resulting from God's grace.  Methodology alone won't guarantee spirituality, but some of our traditionally held methods that don't have biblical basis may be hindering God's Spirit in our congregations. 

 

If your church has fallen into this pattern, there's still hope.  If your congregation has true followers of Christ and you are a godly leader preaching the Bible to them, then the Spirit is working there.  With God's power, the church you serve has what it takes to make a difference not only in your community but in the world. 

 

This original  article that this one is based on was published at www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=8551 in August of 2005.  The above parts that are underlined were not in the original article and represent my Sept 2009 updates.

 
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